Immigration laws are very important to me. I am a Mexican-American Latina, first generation born in the United States. If my dad had not left all of his family and everything he knew behind, my story could be different. Immigration laws could mean life or death for me. I could have been one of the children at the border begging for sanctuary. I could have been one of the mothers begging for mercy for my child’s life, willing to give them up and do anything to save their life.
You see Central America is nothing like North America. The only thing they share in common is the “America”. Living in the United States compared to living in a third world country is the difference between living in a mansion in the country and living on the streets in the middle of a war zone. If you have never been to Central America, or been and never actually ventured outside of your touristy/ trendy hotel paradise, you have no idea of what the rest of the country looks like. It is very different than what you are seeing. Those kids at the airport or on the street who jump on your taxi trying to sell you chicles or wash your windshield, they are not doing this for some extra cash…this is survival. This is how they eat. It may be mildly annoying to you to be asked but it is humiliating to them to beg for your scraps but they do it to avoid doing something worse like being drug mules.
Recently, a group of 22 migrants, mostly women and children from Honduras and Guatemala, were taken into custody after crossing the Rio Grande near McAllen on June 18. The gangs that control much of the area’s human smuggling often tell women and children that they will be permitted to stay upon turning themselves in.
The United States is preparing to send 45,000 children back to Central American countries controlled by drug cartels that routinely torture, rape and kill children who refuse to work for them. So routinely, so often are children menaced that their families sent them away, alone, across thousands of miles on just the slimmest of hopes that they might be safe. U.S. law doesn’t allow them sanctuary.
These children have walked through some of the most hostile, hot, barren, dangerous country in the world with no one to care for them. Poor families scraped together all their money by doing God knows what and paid thousands of dollars because they are terrified of what might happen to their children if they stay in their home country and then entrusted those children to criminals ( Coyotes) praying they might arrive in America and be safe.
I have been to Mexico, not Cabos San Lucas, Alcapulco or Puerto Vallarta, but nearer to Mexico City; the state of Michoacan in Western Mexico. Never heard of it? Well, it is the front line for the drug cartel in Mexico, its overlords are the Knight’s Templar drug cartel. I won’t get into too many specifics because it’s dangerous to speak of these things but I will say this, I know what these children are running from. I’ve heard the stories. I know why these parents are sacrificing themselves and separation from the most precious thing in their life; they are doing it out of pure selfless love for their children. They are risking life and limb to get their children to the United States because the alternative is death. They are risking all of this under some false pretense that the people of the U.S. are compassionate and kind. They are mistaken. Our borders are more important than their children.
This is not the first time that the United States has closed its borders to refugees in need. In 1939, a German trans-Atlantic liner carrying 938 Jewish refugees was refused entrance into our country and forced to return to a soon to be Nazi overrun Europe. We didn’t care then and we don’t care now. Our lack of compassion may have lead directly to death for some of those passengers.
And now President Obama is promising the American people to send these children back to Central America. We live in an America that demands he do so because our right to close our borders and keep the “dirty, job stealing Mexicans” out is more important to us than granting sanctuary to small children whose lives will surely be in peril if they return. The people demanding that the borders be shut are probably some of the same people who are buying the drugs that are putting these children’s lives at risk.
We’ve heard their stories now. Stories of children who are publicly stripped naked and gang raped by drug syndicates to scare their parents. Stories of children maimed in order to convince their father to sell his property or join their cartel. Stories of children murdered to prove a point. By sending these children back, we are sending the message that we think these children are as disposable as the cartel thinks they are. I implore you, as human beings, to consider that this is about more than our borders. It is about children whose lives are at risk and I don’t mean by first world standards. These children have nothing and by turning them away, be assured we are sending them to be slaughtered like animals in the street.